300 rabbis vow to 'wake EU from its dangerous slumber'

Rabbinical Center of Europe calls on European countries to do more to combat anti-Semitism, defend religious freedom.

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RCE conference
RCE conference
Itzik Belinski

300 Rabbis, including the Chief Rabbi of Israel, vowed at a conference of the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) to “wake the EU from its dangerous slumber” by engaging in a concerted campaign of outreach and awareness raising at EU and Member State level, said RCE Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin Tuesday.

Rabbi Margolin spoke as 300 Rabbis from across Europe met at the RCE Conference, which took place this year in Bucharest, Romania.

The rabbis met at a time of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, with populist and xenophobic parties in the ascendancy and, as a result, more legislation that severely impacts religious minorities and attack the Jewish way of life.

The two-day conference dealt with issues affecting Jewish Law, heard many more voices than usual saying that a line needed to be drawn, and that the EU needed to do much, much more to defend religious freedom across Europe.

Rabbi Margolin said in a statement: “Never before have I heard so many concerned voices from my fellow Rabbis at the situation affecting Jewry in Europe. Instead of spending our time talking about the enriching and continuing development of Jewish life in Europe, we find ourselves instead talking about existential threats in the form of legislation from many countries that, if implemented, mark the beginning of the end of Jewish life there. I’m talking about laws that ban Kosher food, Kosher slaughter, circumcision, the way we choose to dress, you name it and it seems its fair game from some politicians scrapping the very bottom of the populist barrel."

"Enough is enough. The Conference is resolute. We must wake the EU from its dangerous slumber. We will begin a large and effective outreach drive from across our membership to EU leaders. Our message is a simple one: You say you believe and enshrine Freedom of Religion. You say it’s an intrinsic part of EU membership. Prove it! Every week, we are taking legal cases against member states to defend our way of life from needless and discriminatory legislation. Words are not enough. We need concrete action from the EU leadership, to make it clear that such legislation is out of step with European values of tolerance and respect. And that breaching these values carries with it penalties.”